• Shapeshifter Mythology in REFLECTIONS

    Shapeshifter Mythology in REFLECTIONS
    I’m all moved into my new townhouse! Now that I’m settled, I’m going to try to update this blog more often. I want to share more of my writing with you guys, so with that in mind, today’s post is all about the project I’m working on now. Enjoy!

    When I started writing my WIP Reflections, I knew I wanted it to include shapeshifters. I’d never written urban fantasy before, so I was looking forward to including a little bit of magic. I haven’t read many stories about shapeshifters, and they’ve always fascinated me. I couldn’t wait to get started. Of course, I knew next to nothing about what my shapeshifters would be like. I didn’t think that mattered and started writing, anyway.

    Soon, I hit a wall. I got to my first big shapeshifter scene and realized I had no idea how any of it worked. For me, a great deal of writer’s block comes from not knowing where to go next, so I had a massive problem on my hands. I needed to correct it or I’d never get any more work done on the project.

    As nervous as I was about moving forward—I had no idea how to develop any kind of mythology!—I was certain I could do it. And anyway, I had to.

    So I got to work. When developing a mythology, like worldbuilding, I figured I needed to come with answers to a few crucial questions. After half an hour of brainstorming to determine what I needed to know, here’s what I came up with:

    • Who/what created the shapeshifters?
    • How did they get their power originally?
    • What are the strengths and limitations of their abilities?
    • If their power isn’t endless, what motivates it? Do they have a personal power source?
    • Does each individual have unique abilities or distinctive traits, or is everything uniform?
    • What is their “kryptonite”?

    These weren’t all of the questions I came up with, but they did form the framework for the introspection I had to do to move forward. I took about another hour to think through each question, jotting down every thought I had without censoring myself. When I was finished, I had some answers. Here are some of them:

    • Someone traded his or her fertility for the ability to shapeshift—this is also how a shifter can become a tribe leader
    • It comes from gemstones that have been imbued with power by other shifters
    • Shapeshifters (well, mine, anyway) can only shift into the guise of another human, and they can’t pick and choose what to change. For example, if you’re a shifter and you want someone’s nose, you have to also take on the form of their whole body
    • Each shifter’s power is store in their crystal, which must periodically be “topped off” by a tribe leader
    • Each shifter has a specialty, and some are more adept at shifting than others. Each shifter also has a unique gemstone that can only be used by them
    • A shifter’s true form is revealed in their reflections, shadows, and photographs. Shifts can also be broken by extreme emotion

    Once I put all of this information together, I had a solid foundation to work from. In addition, I had my own unique “brand” of shapeshifter—and I knew the basis for almost every character in the novel. The feeling was incredible. I could now move forward with my writing.

    Since then, I’ve hit a couple different snags, but none related to this mythology I set up. I might talk about some issues I’m facing in my next post because I think that some of you might be able to help me solve them. For now, though, I’m content with the progress I’m making.

    While writing this novel, I’ve definitely had to focus more on planning and worldbuilding than usual. That’s one of my favorite things about writing, though–the more you do it, the more you learn. No wonder I keep going. 🙂

    How do you create a mythology? What are your tips for worldbuilding?

    Tweet tweet:

    What’s your worldbuilding process like? Author @brianawrites shares her process for her novel #Reflections. (Click to tweet)


    Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember me tweeting about trunking a novel, The Palest of Pinks, that I started for NaNoWriMo this year. I despise trunking novels, so I try to do it as little as possible (read: never). I haven’t put a manuscript away since Mud Eyes (which I am determined to bring back into the light someday), so tucking this one in for a long winter’s nap was difficult. Still, I’m putting it aside in favor of a YA urban fantasy I’ve been kicking around for a while. It’s called Reflections, and it’s a murder mystery, but with shapeshifters.

    I’ve had plot bunnies for Reflections knocking around in my head for half a year now. The same thing happened to me with Blood and Water, which is why I’ve decided to focus on writing this one–it could be an indication that I’m onto something big.

    Now, I’m still very much in the planning process of writing this book, but I thought I’d share a few things I know about it so far.


    For a long time, I’ve wanted to set a story in the mountains. Most of my extended family lives in West Virginia, and I’ve visited the state so many times that it’s impossible to get the landscape out of my head. As a result, I’ve set Reflections in the portion of the Appalachian Mountains that extends through West Virginia. The majority of the action takes place in Aldale, a fictional small town just shy of the New River.


    For me, I can’t write a novel unless I’ve fallen in love with the characters. My stories are so character-driven that I often have the protagonist’s voice clamoring for my attention long before  put my fingers to the keyboard. It happened with Jay in Blood and Water, and it’s happening with Ramachandra now. Here are some of the key people I’ve “met” already:

    • Ramachandra “Rama” Ganeshan (17)–the novel’s protagonist; a bright, temperamental girl with low self-esteem.
    • Banu Ganeshan (13)–Rama’s younger brother and Unma’s twin; a prankster with a heart of gold.
    • Dhayal Ganeshan (39)–Rama’s father; a funny, kindhearted man who runs an Indian restaurant with his first love and wife, Piya.
    • Piya Ganeshan (37)–Rama’s mother; a stubborn woman with a warm heart beneath her rough exterior who runs an Indian restaurant with her husband.
    • Unma Ganeshan (13)–Rama’s younger sister and Banu’s fraternal twin; sensitive like her sister, but much more introspective.
    • Vincent Harrow (33)–Leader of the Appalachian Shifters; charismatic, charming, and lethal.
    • Carter Gabriel (18)–A young Shifter who befriends Rama
    • Nathaniel Langdon (25)–Vincent’s second-in-command and Leda’s husband; his loyalty to Vincent seems endless.
    • Leda Langdon (22)–Nathaniel’s wife; she has only recently become a Shifter and is struggling to adjust to life under Vincent’s rule.

    There are two other characters I know right now, but I don’t want to share them with you because it’ll spoil something! Let’s just say you’ll know them as soon as you read them, eh? 😉

    Key objects

    I almost wanted to title this section “motifs,” but I’m not quite sure the moniker fits. Nevertheless, there are several items that will be important throughout the novel, including (but not limited to):

    • windows
    • mirrors
    • crystals
    • water
    • tattoos/scars
    • keys

    The crystals will be especially important, which is why I’ve spent so much time looking at and sharing pictures of them lately. I can’t wait to see how everything comes together.


    Like Blood and Water, I’m drawing on several different sources of inspiration for Reflections. If you’d like to get an idea of what the story is about and what Rama’s world is like, check out the Pinterest board and Spotify playlist. Also, make sure you’re following me on Instagram–I’ll be posting some inspiring photos there as well!

    Clearly, I’m excited about this new project. I can’t help feeling like I’ll learn a lot from this novel, and I can’t wait to share the journey with all of you, too. Thanks, as always, for your support! It truly means the world to me.

    Tweet tweet:

    Curious about @brianawrites’ new project? Check out this new post in which she discusses #Reflections! (Click to tweet)